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13.08.2019

NZ Pension Protest now has a YouTube channel
This newsletter is mainly to inform you that www.nzpensionprotest.com now has a YouTube channel where I have already posted several videos on the injustice of the Direct Deduction Policy.

This is the direct link to the channel NZ Pension Protest Administrator:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTaa5yWB4XxK8q6QJ0TCmcA

As the attention span of people is getting shorter and the issue is very complex, this is a great way of getting the message out.

You can subscribe to the channel, so you get news about new posts (if you are lucky! It obviously doesn’t always work, therefore check it out from time to time.)

Also share the information on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc. The more people watch the videos and understand how the indirect confiscation of overseas pensions works, the better.

You might also have made the experience that people don’t understand why we are upset about the policy, particularly New Zealanders who have no idea about the concept of employer/employee-funded retirement schemes forced upon each worker by the respective governments. The compactness of the videos gets the message across.

Best you point them to the video “How it works”, as this explains Section 187-191 (formerly Section 70) for beginners: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zo9YjX4KR1c

For many of you it has been impossible to read up the massive and detailed appeal of a seasoned campaigner to the response the New Zealand government sent to the UN after the complaint of sixteen individuals to the UN Human Rights Council. This response was identified as a concoction of misrepresentations and lies. Now you find the summary of this appeal on video and will definitely recognise how the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Crown Law are trying to fool the world. This is the video I am talking about:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpvhsFUJCM4

These videos are under the headline: 
The Great New Zealand Pension Rip-Off

In other videos affected pensioners are telling their stories, these are titled with: Faces of the Great New Zealand Pension Rip-Off

If you want to contribute a video, you can record it yourself and send it to me. It has to be in MP4 format though, and please keep them rather short. I would then edit the videos. People in Christchurch can contact me and I would record their stories. 


No appetite for protests

In my last newsletter I had informed you about the cancelled protest in Wellington. As a considerable number of people could not change their bookings, quite a considerable group gathered at The Backbencher, and we had discussions about how to go forward with our efforts to have the Direct Deduction Policy changed or discontinued. There was no appetite for (further) protests, the main reason being the fear of small numbers of protesters who would eventually show up.

Of course, cost is also a significant factor for people who are robbed of their retirement funds, and due to the short notice of the intended protest no cheap flights were available. Some people who would have wanted to join the protest were on holiday. Just ask yourselves if you would join a protest. My experience is that most of you suffer silently and hope for a change, and I understand it. Even for me who has not reached pension age yet this constant fight is exhausting. But I don’t give up yet.

I thought it was quite amusing that due to the noise at the pub and it looking for a more quiet place, we had a group discussion in a lounge inside Parliament, discussing how to beat the Government at the venue where the law change should happen. Everyone agreed that we should show presence at Select Committees whenever the opportunity arises.

Also take other opportunities to make your voice heard, e.g. at the presentation of the negotiators of the Free Trade Agreement with the EU. One such event will be held tonight in Christchurch and one campaigner will attend and hopefully be able to ask a question related to the pension rip-off.

If your overseas pension comes from an EU country, I suggest that you write to the governments of these countries and ask them to not agree to the EU/NZ agreement as long as New Zealand abuses their retirement schemes for lowering the cost of NZ Super. 

New Zealand does NOT share the cost of pensions with other countries, as they always claim, but CAPTURE the overseas pension in order to avoid sharing the cost. While the EU negotiates the deal with New Zealand and the individual EU member countries are responsible for pensions, the member countries still need to sign off the agreement.


Incompetent staff at International Services

In my last newsletter I told you about an elderly couple in their eighties who moved to Norway because they had suffered long enough under the spousal deductions and a lifelong New Zealander’s NZ Super reduced to about 50 per cent because of the wife’s overseas pension. 

They just couldn’t bear life in New Zealand any longer and moved to Norway a week before we discovered that the Government intends to discontinue the Spousal Provision from 1 July 2020.

This couple had done the entire procedure correctly, had received the information that the man would receive full NZ Super overseas under the Portability rules and the wife proportional NZ Super based on the months spent in New Zealand between ages 20 and 65. 

Two months later they received a letter from International Services (IS) at MSD, telling the wife that she would not receive NZ Super in Norway because she had not RECEIVED any NZ Super payments in New Zealand – which, of course, happened due to the deductions and her overseas pension being higher than NZ Super.

Now these two knew where to get advice from, including the relevant sections of laws and regulations, and sent an appeal to IS straight away, and in no time the IS manager sent them a corrected letter. But he didn’t even apologise for the mistake of an incompetent staff member who had nearly given this couple a heart attack. The letter read as if it were the first letter on this specific case. This is more than shameful.

And it is twice as shameful as I had written to the IS manager just a year ago, telling him that some of his staff members give out false information on exactly this issue – Portability – in emails and on the phone. He asked for details in order to be able to give the staff better training. 

But as we see now, one year later nothing has changed. And I wonder how many pensioners receive false information, how many believe it and how many just suffer a heart attack or stroke. From the several hundred pensioners of my mailing list four people have contacted me within a year after having received wrong information on Portability.

I am also constantly told that the monthly, quarterly or annual statements from MSD about the deductions are littered with mistakes. I wonder how many staff are required to make all these mistakes and then correct them, sometimes even several times. And I wonder how often MSD just get away with it because it is too difficult or tiring for many pensioners to constantly check their statements in detail. 

Given all the information about the mistakes and wrong information, I can only recommend to contest every letter from MSD until it is crystal-clear that the information is correct.


Waiting for the Culture Change

I am also still waiting for the culture change within the MSD department that has been announced by Minister Carmel Sepuloni quite a while ago. I can’t avoid the impression that it is getting worse and not better. 

Right after the discovery of the intended change to the Spousal Provision in the Wellbeing Budget in early June, I contacted MSD and their media department and asked for clarification of discrepancies on the MSD and WINZ website. While the NZ Herald got the information two or three days later, I am still waiting for a reply to this day.

After several weeks I asked the same questions under the Official Information Act (OIA), and by the end of June I received an email saying I would receive a response no later than 30 July. In early August I asked for sending me the response without further delay. No reaction. A week ago I complained to the Ombudsman for being treated like an enemy of the state.

And really, this is the same department that claims it is there to help! Yes, they are there to help themselves to your money. Hypocrisy at its worst!




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